Call for furlough-like scheme for self-isolating workers following outbreaks in food processing factories
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury Spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has written to the Chancellor to call for greater support for those forced out of work due to localised Covid-19 outbreaks.
In a letter to the Treasury, Mr Lake has urged the UK Government extend similar levels of financial support to those forced out of work due to Coronavirus.
The Plaid MP has made the call following a serious Coronavirus outbreak at a food processing plant in at 2 Sisters in Llangefni, Ynys Mon. So far 158 workers have tested positive. There have been similar outbreaks in food processing plants in Wrexham and Cleckheaton.
Concerns have been raised about staff in the sector, who are often in low-paid work, being forced to make a decision about whether they find work whilst they should be self-isolating in order to make ends meet.
In the letter, Ben Lake MP says:
“Whilst I welcomed the steps the UK Government took to lower the threshold for Statutory Sick Pay, I am concerned that the total payment of £95.85 per week is still not enough for many households the length and breadth of the UK. I note that the inadequacy of this regime was considered in breach of legal obligations by the European Committee of Social Rights in 2018, and therefore request that it is addressed as a matter of urgency.
“The danger posed by inaction is clear, most recently evidenced by the severity of Covid-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants in Ynys Môn, Wrexham and Cleckheaton. While there is need for more research on the relationship between facilities such as these and Covid-19, and that some of those workers in this outbreak will be supported by their employers with full pay, I am concerned that in future outbreaks employers may not be so generous. Should employers not consider this situation as precedent, we face the very real situation where workers in future outbreaks may be forced to conclude that they have no choice but to seek employment immediately elsewhere due to the inadequacy of Statutory Sick Pay.
“Workers in the food processing industry are particularly vulnerable, with a Low Pay Commission (LPC) report last year finding that around 6,700 workers – 11.8% of low-paid employees in food processing jobs – were paid lower than the national living wage. The closure of plants due to local outbreaks of Covid-19 will have a detrimental effect on thousands of families.
“The choice facing these workers is stark. How can a family who may have relied on the income of an individual working at one of these facilities now meet their needs living on less than £100 a week? I fear that the inadequacy of the Statutory Sick Pay scheme is asking individuals to choose between being able to put food on the table for their family, or risk transmitting the virus to others in the community.
“I therefore urge you to extend similar levels of financial support to organisations, and in-turn workers, who find themselves in this situation as that offered by the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme. This would not only deliver further security for those in low-income work from the financial dangers posed by Covid-19, but would give employers and the workforce at large greater confidence as we move forward to more sporadic and localised outbreaks of the virus.”
Jail after heroin worth £45,000 seized
AN ABERYSTYWYTH woman has been jailed, and an organised crime gang disrupted, after heroin worth £45,000 was found at her home.
Dyfed-Powys Police found more than 400g of the class A drug during a warrant at Susan Marie Proffitt’s home – resulting in one of the force’s largest single seizures of heroin in Ceredigion.
The result has disrupted an active organised crime gang supplying class A drugs to the area.
Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This swift and thorough investigation involved officers and staff from departments across the division, who worked together to secure this result.
“The defendant had a huge amount of heroin at her home, with efforts taken to conceal bags of the drug around the property.
“There is no doubt that in taking Proffitt out of the supply chain we will have disrupted an organised crime gang which she was a trusted part of in supplying heroin into the division.”
Officers carried out a warrant at the 52-year-old’s home in South Road on August 30, 2020.
On searching the property, a box containing 408g of heroin was found concealed in a vent under the staircase, and two further wraps were found in a shower head bracket. Fingerprint marks matching those of Proffitt were found on these items.
Four mobile phones were also seized from the property.
Sgt Jones said: “The quantity of heroin recovered is far in excess of what he would expect to see someone who is simply a user to be in possession of for their own use.
“Given the value of the heroin recovered and the financial circumstances of the defendant, we were confident it was unlikely she would be able to fund a purchase of such a quantity of heroin without being involved in the supply of drugs.
“The only realistic reason for possessing this quantity of heroin was for supply onto others.”
Proffitt was charged with possession with intent to supply, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 57 months in prison when she appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, November 26.
New permanent walk-in test centre opens in Aberystwyth
PEOPLE in Aberystwyth with symptoms of COVID-19 now have access to a permanent walk-in testing facility.
Hywel Dda University Health Board has arranged for a Local Testing Site (LTS) to be located inside the former Padarn Nursery building, (behind, but not connected to, Padarn Surgery), on Penglais Road.
Local people should avoid using the nearby nursery car park, leaving it free for those people accessing tests to park there. People who attend the walk-in centre must wear a face covering.
Meanwhile, the drive-through facility at Canolfan Rheidol has now been relocated to Cardigan in response to a rise in cases in that area. Residents of Aberystwyth will not be impacted by this move as there is plenty of testing capacity at the LTS.
Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies & Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this LTS for the people of Aberystwyth. Many residents in the town, including students, do not have their own private vehicle in order to access drive-through testing facilities, so the option of a walk-in facility is very important.
“This is a challenging time and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and follow the rules, including wearing face coverings where required, maintain social distancing, washing hands regularly, or using a hand sanitiser if hand washing is not possible.”
Anyone who has symptoms of the virus (a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell) must book a test as soon as possible. This can be done through the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.
University students with COVID-19 symptoms, when booking a test, are required to provide their local address in Aberystwyth.
Please do not book a test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not attend testing centres without booking first as you will not be seen without an appointment.
Please follow the latest self-isolation guidelines which can be found here.
For the latest news and updated from Hywel Dda University Health Board visit https://hduhb.nhs.wales/
Improvements required at a pub in Devil’s Bridge
A HOSPITALITY business in Devil’s Bridge has been required to make improvements to safeguard the public’s health and well-being as part of the coronavirus regulations.
A Premises Improvement Notice has been served to The Hafod, Devil’s Bridge, Aberystwyth by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers due to non-compliance with The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
As part of the Premises Improvement Notice, the Premises must ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises, and put measures in place which limit close face to face interaction and maintain hygiene.
These measures will need to be implemented by 17:00 on November 27, 2020. The full notice can be seen on the Council’s website under Improvement and Closure Notices.
Information for businesses is available on the Council’s website under Supporting Ceredigion’s Economy.
Any business who is unsure of their responsibilities is urged to check the Welsh Government website.
Any business that requires further information or guidance can contact the council’s Licensing Team on 01545 570881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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